Islamabad: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) will fly its first flight on May 12 to bring back Pakistanis stranded in the United States amid the Corona virus pandemic, a spokesperson for the PIA said. The spokesperson said, the chartered airplane has been scheduled to fly Islamabad-Washington-Islamabad, adding that this would become the first flight in Pakistan's history to travel to the USA non-stop and would be 14.5 hours long.
The plane would take off from the federal capital without any passengers, according to the spokesperson, who added that 12 flights in total have been scheduled for this purpose, to repatriate Pakistanis stranded in the USA as the pandemic worsens. According to sources, the fare for the special flight would be around $2,000.
On the other hand, several Pakistani students remain stranded across the UK, desperately awaiting assistance from the authorities back home. The UK had on March 23 announced a nationwide lockdown with travel restrictions to contain the coronavirus pandemic, leaving thousands of international students from different countries, including Pakistan.
Students complained of no response from the national carrier, saying neither the PIA was answering our calls or responding to our emails nor the Pakistan High Commission in London replied to any of our emails yet. Fawad Ahmed Malik, a student at University of Hertfordshire studying operations and supply chain management since January 2019 said, They have just sent me an automated response.
No one from either the PIA or High Commission has contacted me so far. My parents in Islamabad are also worried as I have no money at all to eat or live, he added. The High Commission, on the other hand, said it had exclusively designated First Secretary Muhammad Aneel Zafar for students affairs and publicised it in the media and on the mission's website.
More than 1,800 stranded Pakistanis are registered with us. Priority is accorded as mentioned in the High Commissioner's message to the community. Keeping in view the student's situation, the High Commission will provide necessary support to him, a spokesperson for the High Commission added.